I'm not butting. I swear.

The traffic in Saskatoon is horrific. I can't say for sure if it is horrific compared to other cities. In fact, maybe everyone is biased to the city they live in, but in Saskatoon the traffic is NOT good.

In August zipper merging was consuming radio talk shows. On 650 CKOM John Gormley spent countless hours talking to experts and listeners debating the topic. In fact, one of his listeners even made bumper stickers to purchase to promote the concept.

The idea behind zipper merging is rather than pile into one long line and creep towards an area where a lane is closed, you are supposed to stay in your lane until the place where the lane is closed. At this point you are to merge like a zipper.


Image from: http://michiganstate.247sports.com/Board/93/Holy-crap-is-275-a-complete-mess-11222431/1
If I haven't made it clear enough, you can watch a video of it HERE.

As Gormley said in his article, many drivers are hesitant to drive past a long line of traffic to the point of the lane closure. I was one of them. I used to hate when people whizzed by me in line and then butted in close to the front. I have even been known to throw my hands up in the air and shout, "What's the hurry? Is your wife in labour?"

Notice I said, "I was one of them." I have been converted. The Saskatoon police sargent in charge of traffic is promoting the zipper merge to be a way of speeding up traffic through construction zones. I feel as though it is my duty as a driver to do my best to speed up traffic in our congested city.

I tried it for the first time yesterday. It took 3 or 4 cars to let me in when I got to the front of the line. I gave the man a wave once I had successfully merged. He scowled and shook his head at me. I wanted to send a paper airplane out my window made with THIS article. I'm not a jerk. I'm being a good driver. Really. I am.

Comments

  1. In Montreal, zipper merge is the norm. Traffic flows A LOT better there I might add...I loved driving there, whereas Saskatoon and Calgary both drive me MAD!

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  2. I am not a regular commenter on your blog. The times that I have felt motivated to do so, I haven't because I don't really know you, and you probably don't care what I think, even though you and I have actually met...

    I was very angry and annoyed when I was reading this post yesterday, but I put my phone down and chose not to respond then because this frustration would have led to an awful post... so here goes...

    I disagree with almost this entire post. What I do agree with is that IF everyone did zipper merging, it would be more effective.

    However, almost no one in Saskatoon does zipper merging. So instead of enlightening people to do so, by just talking about it to friends and urging people to do so, you chose to look like the jerk that ignores the fact that everyone is lined up and has been patiently waiting in creeping traffic since the "Left lane closed ahead" sign 3km back. You look like the person that thinks that their time is far more important than everyone elses. You look like that "damn woman driver" that I'm sure the guy that let you in was thinking. Did he learn anything from letting you in? No. Because you are not in a capacity to explain to him while you are both in your cars. IF you get the bumper sticker, by all means, go nuts! The slow traffic may give the guy that let you cut in a minute to read it and thus help start changing the world. Until then you are just gunna piss people off.

    And come to think of it there have been times in Saskatoon where I have seen zipper merging. It happens effectively when there is no notice of the lane closure prior. For example, a car accident closed off by police, a stalled car, road construction that is JUST being set up, etc... People zipper merge then because they KNOW that you didn't get in that lane on purpose because it is shorter and your time is more valuable than theirs.

    If the police sergeant wants people to zipper merge, he should advocate for signs that say "Zipper merge ahead" rather than "left lane closed ahead". That might actually change things if people knew what zipper merging was.

    And for the record, one car scooting in front of the 800 cars that were waiting did not speed up traffic one bit.

    Sorry if this seems a bit ranty and angry. But this is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. I am all for the zipper merging if it becomes a regular thing, but it doesn't look like it's gunna happen in S'toon.

    This is just like how they treat escalators in London. Right side is for runners, left side is for standers. If a stander stands on the right side and gets knocked over by a runner, it's not the runner that gets glared at... it's the guy that is bleeding from scraping himself on the escalator because he didn't follow the social norm.

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  3. I think there should be signs for zipper merging. I think it would work better - but like Annie said, it is not the norm here. There needs to be proper signage for it. I don't listen to the radio. I don't watch local news. So proper signage is a must.

    Pick the shortest lane - like a drive thru. haha.


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